The Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Brad Henry vetoed an anti-abortion bill Wednesday night, saying it was “unconscionable” to require victims of rape and incest to undergo an ultrasound examination.
“While I support reasonable restrictions on abortion, this legislation does not provide an essential exemption for victims of rape and incest,” Henry said in his veto message to the Legislature.
“By forcing the victims of such horrific acts to undergo and view ultrasounds after they have made such a difficult and heartbreaking decision, the state victimizes the victim a second time,” he said.
“It would be unconscionable to subject the victims of rape and incest to such treatment. Because of this critical flaw, I cannot in good conscience sign this legislation.”
Sen. Todd Lamb, R-Edmond, who introduced the legislation, said he would attempt an override “as quickly as I can.”
It will require a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate to override the veto. The measure passed the Senate, 38-10, and the House, 80-12.
Lamb said he was disappointed in the veto and also that he did not get a call from the governor about the action.
“I heard the veto message and it sounds like he really hung his hat on the ultrasound provision of the legislation,” he said, adding that the governor was misinformed by saying the bill required a woman to view an ultrasound.
He said a national survey shows 99 percent of abortion clinics already perform ultrasound examinations.
“This is a very bipartisan issue. There are Democratic co-authors of this legislation,” Lamb said.
“We are greatly disappointed that he governor has acted contrary to the overwhelming view of the House and Senate that this very worthy legislation should become law in Oklahoma,” said Tony Lauinger, chairman of the anti-abortion Oklahomans for Life, Inc.
“Abortion is not a solution to the tragedy of rape or incest,” Lauinger said. “Abortion is a second tragedy which compounds the tragedy of rape or incest.”
He said an ultrasound gives a woman “essential information which would allow her to give truly informed consent.”
The bill expands on anti-abortion legislation passed in 2006 that required abortion doctors to tell a woman she had a right to a free ultrasound exam at an offsite location.
The bill allows doctors and other health care providers to refuse to take part in an abortion for moral and religious reasons.
It requires a woman to sign a consent form before having an abortion and mandates that federal guidelines be followed in the use of the chemical pill RU-486.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, RU-486 may be obtained only from doctors to end a pregnancy up to 49 days. It is commonly called the abortion pill.
The measure also sought to prohibit so-called “wrongful-life” lawsuits that argue a disabled child would have been better off aborted.
Henry vetoed a bill last year that prohibited abortions at state facilities. But he let a follow-up measure become law without his signature after it deleted victims of rape and incest from its provisions.
Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa, was House author of the latest anti-abortion bill.
The Associated Press
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